The Law Society is clamping down on firms that breach trainee recruitment policy by interviewing students for training contracts before the beginning of their third year.
The Law Society publishes guidelines suggesting that firms do not interview prospective trainees before 1 September of their third year, but does not police firms that ignore the guidelines to cherrypick the best candidates.
Next year, the Law Society intends to ask all firms to sign up to a new code of conduct, which will require a promise in writing to stick to the guidelines.
The Lawyer is aware of one magic circle firm and another top City firm that have offered jobs to second-year students who participated in their summer vacation schemes.
When the code of conduct is introduced, the Law Society's inference is that firms that do not sign up to it run the risk of appearing unscrupulous.
"Most firms don't interview for trainees before 1 September of a student's final degree year, but we understand that, from time to time, some do make offers or arrange interviews earlier than this. We plan to bring in a code of practice next year and firms will be invited to sign up to this," Law Society chief executive Janet Paraskeva told The Lawyer.
The head of one law school added: "Of course, everyone's fighting for the best candidates, but the playing field should be fair."